The holiday season is in full swing and I am searching for the perfect appetizer. These Mini Holiday Cheese Bites are delectable and so easy to make. This time of year is so busy with work, family and friends, I wanted to create something that’s easy, festive and sophisticated. This is a great starter and transports nicely in case you need a dish to bring to a party. It is a crowd pleaser. My go to snack has always been cheese and crackers, so when I was planning my holiday menu I drew inspiration from it and a childhood favorite, the Cheese Ball.
Any chance I get, I love updating classic and retro recipes. I may be dating myself, but growing up a giant cheese ball was often the centerpiece of a party. It was surrounded by Ritz crackers and a bowl of punch was placed next to it. To me, this was the height of elegance and I was mesmerized by it.
I gave this recipe a makeover because it can be awkward to eat and I thought having mini bites would make it easier to eat and create a fun presentation. They look so nice on a platter but it can be arranged in the shape of a wreath or tree. Each bite is rolled in different ingredients which give a nice texture and flavor profile. The best part was going through my spice cabinet and pantry trying out all the different combinations. I also divided the recipe in half to make some vegetarian and added bacon to the other half. This makes for an easily adaptable and delicious addition to your holiday table.
For this recipe, I had to go with Cabot Creamery Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese. The intense flavor of the cheese pairs so nicely with bold flavors and is so versatile. It has a nutty and robust flavor that really shines through. Whenever I taste this cheese, I’m reminded of their award winning taste and quality. All Cabot Cheddars are Naturally Aged and are both Naturally Gluten and Lactose-Free. Cabot Creamery achieved B Corp Certification in 2012 and became the world’s first dairy co-op to do so. You can taste the care and commitment in every bite.
MINI HOLIDAY CHEESE BITES
(makes about 24)
16 ounces (2 packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
16 ounces (2 bars) Cabot Creamery Seriously Sharp Cheddar, grated
dried or fresh herbs (dill, parsley, thyme, chives, cilantro)
crispy, chopped bacon
spice blends (everything bagel, Chile lime, dried mushroom, za’atar)
dried spices (paprika, black pepper, tumeric)
chopped nuts (pistachio, almond, pecan, hazelnut, walnut)
seeds (black and white sesame, poppy, fennel, hemp, sunflower)
chopped dried fruits (cranberries, apples, pears)
assorted crackers and breads
fig or apple butter
cornichons or olives
cured meats (salami, prosciutto, smoked ham)
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment mix cream cheese, garlic powder, cayenne, and pinch salt until smooth. Add the Seriously Sharp Cheddar and mix on low just until it is combined. At this point, you can divide the batter in half and add 1/2 cup of chopped, cooked bacon to the mixture. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an ice cream scoop shape out 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture into a ball and place them onto the sheet pan. Roll them into desired toppings and arrange on a platter. These can be made ahead and chill until ready to serve.
This recipe can be made a few hours ahead of time, but no longer than 4 hours.
If using fresh herbs, chop them up finely and make sure they are dry.
Do a taste test of the toppings that may be spicier or stronger than the others. This will determine how much you coat the bites.
Add them to a charcuterie board or arrange the cheese bites in a festive wreath or tree.
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